Kara Powell - Church and Ever-Changing Culture - ReThink Leadership 2016

Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. As a youth ministry veteran of over 20 years, she serves as an Advisor to Youth Specialties. Named by Christianity Today as one of "50 Women You Should Know", Kara is the author or co-author of a number of books including Sticky Faith, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.
  • The older that I get, the older that I feel. 
  • The older I get the harder it is to stay in church with culture.    
  • The church is calibrated for a world that doesn’t exist. But we also have to calibrate ourselves to culture.
  • We need to calibrate ourselves to scripture, but we need also need to calibrate ourselves to culture. Both are important. We must calibrate ourselves to culture or we lose relevance and culture.
  • No major Christian tradition is growing in the U.S. today. We are getting smaller and older. Churches are getting smaller and older. 16-29 year olds represent 22% of the population, but  only represent 10% of U.S. Church goers.
  • Study coming out soon about 250 congregations especially effective with 18-22. They are growing young. 

3 cultural trends that every church needs to understand:

Cultural Trend 1: 5 years. 
There is a shift happening with young people that mark adulthood--young people are trending 5 years later on everything. Young people are turning the corners on traditional data 5 years later.They are delaying financial independence 5 years later.  Moving out 5 years later. They are getting married 5 years later. Having children 5 years later. Emerging adults. 18-29 year olds are now referred to as Emerging Adults. We want to be a safe place to ask heretical questions. When we do a better job of reaching them we will impact 14%

Cultural Trend 2: 76%.
Us verses us. 76% of the LGBT community are open to re-engaging with and returning to the local church. They want informed, respectful, and thoughtful answers. They wanted a commitment to conversation. 4% of the U.S. identify themselves at LGBT. The world is watching how the church is dealing with this issue. Reality is all people are made in God’s image. People do better when they brush up with Christ centered communities. When we reach these we reach 3% of the population.
Example: D. L. Moody. Come back to church, removing log from a fireplace. 
Cultural Trend 3: 1/3
You may be alienating 1/3rd of population and we don’t even realize it. We asked senior leaders to describe a young person with a vibrant faith. Almost all described those who are extroverts. Is it possible that there are churches that are catering to extroverts and missing out on engaging with introverts. Is it possible in our church we are catering to extraverts and isolating introverts? Data says so.  1/3 of Americans are introverts. We need a church that connects with both introverts and extraverts. Where else do you sing in public? When we reach introverts, we will impact 33%

Do the Math: In a culture where church attendance is growing older and getting smaller, if we create experiences where 14% of young people connect with God, 3% of the LGBT community connect with God, and 33% of introverts connect with God? That increases the potential to reach over 40% of our nation's population!

14% + 3% + 33% - over 40%.  

When we reach these 3 cultural trends we will reach over 40% more people.

  • We can’t underestimate the power of love.
  • Warm is the new cool.
  • God is working through congregations of all sizes, flavors and regions.
  • The church that goes from one stance to another stance the attendance drops through the floor. – GS
  • Culture is invisible but determinative. – CN
  • Loyalty to the leader was valued over everything else. – Referring to a toxic, co-dependent environment
  • Vision is stories shared of future hope.
  • I long for the church to be known for what we’re for than what we’re against.
  • The church should be calibrated for a world that does exist. – CN